Now that the temperature has decided to be VERY fall-like, I’m hibernating. And you’ll only get me to come out with the promise of wine. Mulled wine, specifically.

There are tons of mulled wine recipes out there. Personally, I don’t like mine all that sweet. And I like to throw in a little brandy at the end, for that extra something special. I’m aware that not everyone keeps these ingredients on hand (unless you bake – I don’t). But it’s worth it to get them now so you can have mulled wine until the weather warms up. You can do this on the stovetop or in your crockpot. I like the Crockpot option because I throw everything in and go tend to something else and slowly, the house starts to smell all warm and spicy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Red Wine – cheap, dry. The quantity will depend on how many people you’ll serve. One bottle could be good for 2 to 4 people.
-Cinnamon sticks – no you may NOT use the powder here. Your finished product will be slimy and muddy. Invest in the sticks. 
-Whole star anise
-An orange
-Whole cardamom pods
-Apple cider
-Optional sweetener if you must
-Brandy.

1. Pour wine into the pot or Crockpot. Heat very slowly, so keep it low.
2. Throw in 1 cinnamon stick for each bottle of wine you use.
3. Slice up your orange and throw that in. Half an orange should be good unless you are using many bottles of wine. And in that case, use more orange. There’s no exact science to this.
4. Throw in just a FEW star anise and cardamom pods. We’re going for subtlety here.
5. Pour in half a cup of cider for each person you’ll be serving.
6. Let it get warm and then taste. Does it need anything? You can add sugar or honey at this point if you need to.
7. Add brandy to individual mugs just as you are about to pour in the mulled wine. The quantity will depend on what type of drinker you’re serving.

If you’re trying to be cute, and you should ALWAYS be trying to be cute, garnish with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick.

Bonus: Story time. This one time, I was at a winery and they had mulled wine. I was excited! That excitement DIED as soon as I tasted my drink. It was overly sweet AND the only spice they used was cloves. My entire mouth went numb. That wasn’t delightful. If you do decide to use cloves, 1 or 2. Seriously. Numbing someone’s mouth isn’t the objective here.